WRITING OUT LOUD: Scientific fact


There is no doubt the internet enabled better communication. Exchanges of knowledge, information, ideas and even goods take place to a degree that seemed improbable just a few years ago. Only in a comic book or on television would you have seen someone talking to someone else through a video screen on a wristwatch.

My son has a relationship with his grandfather in large part due to Skype. I have contact with and know about the lives of many friends only because of Facebook. My husband and I used the internet at a library to look at every house for sale in Madison, Wis., in our price range, and with our first computer, we were able to figure out how to install a new water heater in the middle of that first, cold winter.

Right now, the world is turning, figuratively, in large part by the efforts of keystrokes from behind our screens. Social media connects us in a way we’ve never been before, but at the same time gives us enough distance to ignore common decency and even truth. Social media is like the wild, wild west. Rules don’t apply. Social media didn’t exist when we made the rules.

As we collectively face the crises created by the COVID-19 virus, we’re lacking a unified response. We need to agree on what is in our best interest and simply do it — all of us. Information is distorted on social media, misinformation shared widely. There is a deliberate effort to create discord, mistrust and dissent.

I don’t know when there started being different sides of right and alternative facts. Everywhere in my life I’ve been surrounded by educated people. Everyone learned enough science in school to know how it works, so I’m confused by those who resist the advice of experts.

Regarding COVID-19, how to fight it, how to protect ourselves and each other, and what is coming next, the people with the most current and accurate information are the doctors and scientists in the world’s best research hospitals. The National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic and universities including Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Stanford provide current information and recommendations.

The internet allows us to compare that information with similar institutions worldwide, the marvel of technology that we can even quickly and easily translate information from other languages. While it is necessary to be discerning when considering sources, most agree on the authority and validity of the medical establishment.

This isn’t about politics, about right or left, conservative or liberal. What matters is the science-based research. Many of our nations top researchers who have devoted their careers to science are hard at work developing treatments and to create a vaccine. These are the people who deserve our attention.

They’ve told us we must stay away from each other — not gather in groups, keep 6 feet of distance, wash our hands and cover our faces when we are among others.

Members of our community are performing their jobs here in Lincoln County, making difficult decisions in unprecedented conditions, working to keep us safe. Tune in to a meeting where our elected officials are briefed by the health department. Reach out to get your questions answered and your concerns heard. Be informed. Look deeper than the post, the tweet, the sound bite. Find the truth. Be safe.

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